Not only is T Boone Pickens' energy plan a bad plan. He is presenting it to the public in the wrong way. We have a plan to solve our problems announced from on high, just like the 5 year plan in the old Soviet Union. Of course the plan did not come from the Central Committee, it came from one man. There are several important things wrong about this plan:
* It is going to costa lot of money without solving the CO2 issue.
* It's success or failure will profoundly effect everyone's lives.
* The plan is not very likely to succeed.
* There has no public preplan discussion of energy options, just the launching of Pickens' slick advertising campaign.
* There was no consultative process with energy experts, or the creation of a panel of wise people to make energy recommendations. T. Boone was the whole panel!
Perhaps the good thing about the Pickens plan and its advertising campaign is that is that it focuses national attention on the need to make an all out effort to find and impliment a solution. What is amazing to me is that $4.00 a gallon gasoline has yet to wake the nation from its slumber about energy issues. The problem with $4.00 a gallon gas is that the wrong people get hurt. The people who are in a position to talk about the problems and initiate a decision making process simply can afford to go about their daily lives as if nothing is happening.
They both create the Main Stream Media and get their information from it. There lives are spent in a reality what is made of encapsulated information that is incredibly filtered and manipulated. The media manufactures reality for people, and it puts them to sleep to the dangers that we face. For such people reality is what they read in the newspaper or see on TV. They are the sleeping. At least T Boone Pickens, with his wrong headed plan has called on the sleepers to wake.
Once the country awakes it will face concophany of voices to sort out. The issues are beginning to be sorted out on the internet now, but that process will take some time. There are still a lot of important questions to ask and answer before we can come up with viable energy plan.
There is an important discussion and debate on the internet about energy issues. Ideas are put out for examination, and they are worked over. Major energy systems are being proposed for the future, and both their virtues and flaws are being examined.
We have recently seen yet another major debate on nuclear energy on the internet, with Joseph Romm and Amory Lovins taking the negative case and David Bradish, Rod Adams, the Sovietologist, Brian Wang, myself, and others to numerous to mention including dozens of Salon posters on one of Romm's anti-nuclear hit pieces. In particular David Bradish emerged as a central figure in the debate, he took on Lovins and demonstrated numerous errors in the way Lovins constructed his arguments, problems with Lovins data, his method of analysis, and Lovins highly selective approach to information. Both Bradish and the Sovietologist raised an issue about Lovins perspective that has serious implications for all renewables advocates. Namely that Lovins vision of the energy future is dependent on the future use of fossil fuels.
The problem with renewables is quite obvious, and it is a fundamental of Pickens' plan. It is the problem of intermittency. Renewable energy is not available on demand. So we have to have another source of electrical electricity for when renewable energy is not available. Thus in addition to the cost of a renewable energy system, we would have to use a back up system. The back up options are to use existing fossil fuel generating facilities, build energy storage facilities, and a third option that is rarely discussed, build nuclear plans for renewables backup.
The first option is seriously flawed, if we intend to get serious about fighting global warming. It relies on CO2 generating technology to back up renewable power. In addition, natural gas, a which would be a major part of the fossil fuel back up strategy is becoming increasingly expensive, and is at any rate a non-renewable resource and thus not an sustainable option. Coal has numerous problems. The proposal to sequester CO2 from burning coal is very expensive, has significant complexities, and carries risks that have not been assessed. It is doubtful that coal with Sequestered CO2 would be less expensive than nuclear power,
The second option, which involves the use of energy storage also has significant flaws. First renewable energy technologies are expensive ways to generate the massive amounts of electricity needed to run the American economy. Renewable advocates argue that renewables are cheaper than nuclear energy, but this is debatable. Renewable advocates have engaged in something less than full public disclosure on the price of renewable energy, or have posted pie in the sky price estimates, that do not survive scrutiny of actual renewable building costs. If the cost of energy storage is added to the cost of renewable electrical generation the cost will probably exceed the cost of building electrical generating reactors by a considerable margin.
Finally, the third approach to renewable back up is to build reactors to generate back up electricity. Although expensive, this plan would would have several advantages. For example it would not solve the CO2 problems related to fossil fuel back up, and unlike fossil fuels, nuclear energy is sustainable. There is so much mineable uranium and thorium in the earth's curst that for all practical purposes we will never run out no matter how much we burn for energy. Reactors are expensive, but not more so than some energy storage schemes that have been proposed. And there are things that could be done to bring down reactor costs. Possibly bring down reactor costs a lot without compromising on things like safety. Nuclear plants are also far more flexible than energy storage schemes. The storage schemes can only accept a limited amount of energy, before they are maxed out. The can only pump out the amount of energy stored. Reactors can pump out a virtually unlimited amount of energy. Once the fuel is burned, more can be added. On the other hand if the wind stops blowing for several days, once we drain our storage, we are out of energy, while back up reactors can keep pumping away. Thus back up reactors promise superior reliability to storage approaches.
There is, however, a problem for renewables in the back up reactor approach. Why use reactors to back up renewables, when the very reliable reactors can do the whole job on their own? It would be cheaper, and perhaps far cheaper to build the entire system using only nuclear power. This is, I believe what a blue ribbon panel of wise people will conclude in response to President Obama's charge to come up with a solution to our energy issues shortly after January 20, next year.
There is one more thing the wise peoples panel should look at, and that is the best way to generate electricity from nuclear energy. The conventional approach is to use Light Water Reactors, but they are very expensive, and generate waste. There are two proposals that have the potential to dramatically reduce reactor costs, the Pebble Bed Reactor (PBR), and the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). Both reactor types are safe. Both reactor designs can be quickly mass-produced, and could be churning out power within months of being ordered. There are minimal siting problems for both reactor types. Neither concept is new, and both reactor types have received substantial research from the scientific community. Development costs would be extremely inexpensive if view in light of the amount of money America spends in even a week on imported oil. Both reactor types are safe, but the PBR still has generates nuclear waste. The LFTR does not generate a significant amount of nuclear waste, and indeed the fission byproducts from the LFTR can be sold for Industrial, agricultural, medical and sanitary uses.
The road is clearly open to a safe, low cost solution to our national energy problems. We need as a nation to discover the road and resolutely take it.
Some neat videos
|Nuclear Advocacy Webring
Ring Owner: Nuclear is Our Future Site: Nuclear is Our Future
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links The Weinberg Foundation
- The Weinberg Foundation
- Deregulate the Atom
- LFTRS to Power the Planet
- Sustainable Energy Today
- ANS Nuclear Cafe
- Thorium Power
- The Nuclear Alternative
- Yes Vermont Yankee
- Nuclear Townhall
- NNadir's underground blog
- Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy
- Save The Climate (Sauvons Le Climat0
- The Energy Tribune
- Nuclear Fissionary
- Nuclear Archer
- This week in batteries (TWIB)
- Gerald E. Marsh & George S. Stanford on Nuclear Policy
- The Capacity Factor
- Canadian Energy Crisis
- Institute for Energy Research
- Energy from Thorium Documents
- Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum
- Next Big Future
- Knowledge Problems
- Brave New Climate
- Thorium electronuclear
- AREVA Blog
- The Energy Collective
- Climate Change Politics
- Reactor Physics Group Publications
- Alexander DeVolpi on nuclear-weapons nonproliferation
- New Papyrus Magazine
- Pronuclear Democrats
- American Energy Independence
- Energy Density
- SUSTAINABLE ENERGY - WITHOUT THE HOT AIR
- The Atomic Show
- Atomic Watch
- Pebble Bed Reactors
- The Thorium fuel cycle
- Simon Nisan on Nuclear Desalination
- Dr. Ralph Moir
- National Wind Watch
- Wind Energy Resource Atlas
- solar calculator
- THE NUCLEAR ENERGY OPTION by Bernard L. Cohen
- Oil Drum
- Solar Buzz
- Clean Brake (Tyler Hamilton)
- Fuel Cycle Week
- Depleted Cranium: Dr. Buzzo's Bad Science Blog
- Blogging About the Unthinkable
- Uranium Information
- Frank Munger
- The Information Bridge
- Alvin Weinberg Papers
- Left-Atomics (David Walters)
- Real CLimate
- 1 nuclear place
- World Nuclear News
- David Walters
- NIE Nuclear Notes
- Idaho Samizdat
- Atomic Insights blog
- Energy from Thorium
- A Musing Environment